Two weeks ago, hopeful candidates fought it out for a coveted position on Barnard’s SGA. This week, staff writer Raji Ganapathy sat down with the newly elected SGA President for 2016-2017, Sara Heiny, to hear about her plans for next year. Read on to hear what’s in store.
Bwog: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Sara!
Sara: So I am a rising senior (obviously, since you have to be to run for SGA President), majoring in English and minor in History with a concentration in Science, Technology and Environment. I’m from the Midwest (Indiana), but love living in New York City, mostly because I can walk everywhere and so the exploration never ends. I’m also a huge musical fan, so if you ever go to a CMTS performance you might find me playing cello in the pit orchestra. (This is where I shamelessly plug the Varsity Show – go see it!! It’s an inter-campus tradition and Barnard students abound on stage, in the plot, in the pit, behind the scenes, on the production team, you name it!)
B: Why did you first get involved with SGA?
S: Almost two years ago now, the administration started reviewing and revising the Nine Ways of Knowing. This type of all-out curriculum review only happens every fifteen years, so when they started soliciting opinions from the student body, I was curious. I became a regular attendee at the student open sessions, and was eventually invited to be a student representative and to help gather more input from the student body. As we began to implement this new curriculum (i.e. the Foundations), I applied for the Rep for Academic Affairs position in order be more involved in the process — and that’s kind of how I got involved with SGA.
TL;DR: SGA wasn’t something I knew I wanted to be involved with when I came to Barnard. But I got hooked on the opportunities to work with the administration and to represent something larger than myself (i.e. the student body).
B: What do you consider the most challenging aspect of the leadership process?
S: In the past, the most challenging aspect has been kind of two fold. On one hand, it’s sometimes difficult to get enough student participation, and then when we do, it can be difficult to make sure those voices are heard by the administration.
B: What accomplishments are you most proud of from your time in SGA?
S: I am incredibly proud of the work I’ve done for the Academic Curricular Review and in trying to create more transparency in communication between students and faculty with the Student Academic Advisory Committee’s Round Table series. Our Round Table on Office Hours was particularly successful and I think both students and faculty learned a lot from each other.
B: What differences do you hope to make at Barnard working as President next year?
S: As President, I hope to increase the transparency and effectiveness of communication between students, faculty and administration. As we implement the new transgender admissions policy, the Foundations and the recent hikes in tuition, I also want to make sure that our campus is as inclusive as it can be for all students, whether it be socially, academically or even financially.
B: If there was one thing you could change about SGA, what would it be?
S: I want more students to be involved in SGA! Every student at Barnard is a member of SGA, so if you see an issue at Barnard that the Rep Council or Barnard administration is not addressing, you should bring it to our Monday night meetings. Your concerns or proposals will always be heard!
B: What’s your favorite spot to eat around campus?
S: Are we talking restaurants? Coffee Shops? Places to take a box from Hewitt? If we’re talking restaurants, I really like Max Caffe on 121st & Amsterdam, especially for an early breakfast on a day when I just need a quiet, atmospheric place to write an essay. This doubles as an excellent coffee shop! Think… Hungarian Pastry Shop but with more food options. When the weather’s nice, I also like eating at the tables outside Milbank Hall.
B: Who are your role models for leadership?
S: No one is perfect, so I’ve kind of played pick-and-choose with the people in my life and look toward their individual characteristics for inspiration. Within my family, I look to my grandmother for the strength to take risks, to my parents for the reminder that I should be passionate about whatever I work toward, and to my cousins, who are like my siblings, to keep challenging me. As a former athlete, I also look to people like Marta Vieira da Silva and Misty Copeland for not only their incredible work ethic, but also for their ability to lead by example and to challenge gender and racial stereotypes. In my past three years at this school, I’ve also come across faculty, administrators and students, whom I admire and would like to call my role models. In working closely with them on various projects, I’ve tried to emulate their ability to listen attentively, to create formative connections and to be organizers and mobilizers of collective action.
Another TL;DR: Too many to name.
B: Thoughts on Lemonade?
S: I haven’t watched it yet!! (Please don’t send the Beygency after me!!)
B: How can people get more involved with student government at Barnard?
S: Our Monday night meetings are public and always open to the student body! Everyone should feel free to stop by, especially when we have administrative guests. We also have a whole range of committees that students can join, so if students have a particular interest they should reach out to a Rep and see what’s out there! It’s also all on our website.
B: Anything else on your mind?
S: I’m going to go watch Lemonade now…
Image from Sara Heiny’s campaign Facebook page